EXPANSION AND CONFLICT
WILLIAM E. DODD
PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN HISTORY UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO The Riverside Press Cambridge
COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY WILLIAM E. DODD ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Riverside Press CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS U. S. A.
The purpose of this volume is to show the action and reaction of the most important social, economic, political, and personal forces that have entered into the make-up of the United States as a nation. The primary assumption of the author is that the people of this country did not compose a nation until after the close of the Civil War in 1865. Of scarcely less importance is the fact that the decisive motive behind the different groups in Congress at every great crisis of the period under discussion was sectional advantage or even sectional aggrandizement. If Webster ceased to be a particularist after 1824 and became a nationalist before 1830, it was because the interests of New England had undergone a similar change; or, if Calhoun deserted about the same time the cause of nationalism and became the most ardent of sectionalists, it was also because the interests of his constituents, the cotton and tobacco planters of the South, had become identified with particularism, that is, States rights.
And corollary to these assumptions is the further fact that public men usually determine what line of procedure is best for their constituents, or for what are supposed to be the interests of those constituents, and then seek for "powers" or clauses in State or Federal Constitutions which justify the predetermined course. This being, as a rule, true, the business of the historian is to understand the influences which led to the first, not the second, decision of the Representative or Senator or President or even Justice of the Supreme Court. Hence long-winded speeches or tortuous decisions of courts have not been studied so closely as the statistics of the cotton or tobacco crops, the reports of manufacturers, and the conditions of the frontier, which determined more of the votes of members of Congress than the most eloquent persuasion of great orators.
Thus the following pages utterly fail of their purpose if they do not picture the background of congressional and sectional conflicts during the period from Andrew Jackson to Abraham Lincoln. But, to be sure, in so brief a book all the contributing elements of the growing national life cannot be fully described or even be mentioned. Still, it is the hope of the author that all the greater subjects have been treated. What has been omitted was omitted in order to devote more space to what seemed to be more important, not in order to suppress what some may consider to be of primary significance. Three hundred short pages for the story of the great conflict which raged from 1828 to 1865 do not offer much latitude for explanations and diversions along the way. Nor is it possible for any one to describe this conflict satisfactorily even to all historians, to say nothing of the participants who still live and entertain the most positive and contradictory convictions. Hence one must present one's own narrative and be content if open-mindedness and honesty of purpose be acknowledged.
The book is intended for the maturer students in American colleges and universities and for readers who may be desirous of knowing why things happened as they did as well as how they happened. And by the employment of collateral readings suggested in the short bibliographies at the close of each chapter, both the college student and the more general reader may find his way through the labyrinth of conflicting opinion and opposing authorities which make up the body of our written history.
To make this task easier some twenty-five maps have been prepared and inserted at the appropriate places in the text. These maps, perhaps one might say photographs of social or economic conditions, attempt to present the greater sectional and industrial groups of "interests" which entered into the common life of ante-bellum times. They treat party evolution, economic development, and social antagonisms in a way which, it seems to the author, should help the reader to a better understanding of things than would be possible by the simple narrative.
For permission to use the maps on pages 291, 313, and 327 the author expresses his thanks to the publishers of The Encyclopedia Americana.
In this connection cordial thanks are extended to Professor J. F. Jameson and Dr. C. O. Paullin, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, for the privilege of using the data which they collected on the election of 1828 and the vote in Congress on the Tariff of 1832. Likewise Mr. P. L. Phillips, of the Division of Maps of the Library of Congress, has given the author much assistance. Nor must I fail to say that many of my students have rendered practical aid in working out the details of several of the maps. Mr. Edward J. Woodhouse, of Yale University, very kindly read all the proof and prepared the index. And Professors A. C. McLaughlin and M. W. Jernegan, of the University of Chicago; Allen Johnson, of Yale; Carl Becker, of Kansas; and Frederic L. Paxson, of Wisconsin, have all given counsel and criticism on certain chapters which have been of great practical benefit.
But in making these acknowledgments for assistance rendered, it is not intended to shift to other shoulders any of the responsibility for statements or manner of treatment which may arouse criticism. The book is intended to be helpful, interpretative, and beyond any sectional bias. If the author has not been successful, it is not the fault of others, nor because of any sparing of personal efforts.
William E. Dodd.
I. Andrew Jackson 1
II. The West 20
III. The East 39
IV. Conflict and Compromise 58
V. The Triumph of Jackson 77
VI. Distress and Reaction 96
VII. The Militant South 114
VIII. War and Conquest 147
IX. The Abolitionists 161
X. Prosperity 184
XI. American Culture 208
XII. Stephen A. Douglas 231
XIII. Abraham Lincoln 251
XIV. The Appeal to Arms 268
XV. One Nation or Two? 289
XVI. The Collapse of the Confederacy 309
The Presidential Election of 1828 between 18 and 19
Distribution of Indians and Location of Indian Lands and Unorganized Territory of the United States or the States 26
The Distribution of Industrial Plants in 1833 49
The Vote in the House of Representatives on the Tariff of 1832 in Eastern and Western States between 66 and 67
Growth of the West and Removal of Indians from Cotton, Tobacco, and First Western Grain Belts 88
The Presidential Election of 1836 between 92 and 93
Tobacco Areas in 1840 133
Cotton Areas in 1840 134
Wheat Areas in 1840 139
The Presidential Election of 1844 between 148 and 149
Annexations of 1845-53 159
Location of Abolition Societies in 1847 169
The Presidential Election of 1852 between 180 and 181
The Industrial Belt of 1860 188
Railroads in Operation, 1850 190
Railroads in Operation, 1860 191
The Black Belt of 1860 193
The Cotton Belt of 1860 196
Tobacco Areas in 1860 197
Wheat Areas in 1860 200
The Presidential Election of 1860 between 264 and 265
Conflicting Sectional Interests, 1850-60 237
One Nation or Two? 291
The Confederacy in 1863 313
Regions which surrendered with Lee and Johnston, April, 1865 327
EXPANSION AND CONFLICT
"Let the people rule"—such was the reply that Andrew Jackson made to the coalition of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams which made the latter President. And Andrew Jackson was an interesting man in 1825. He was to be the leader of the great party of the West which was forming for the overthrow of the old political and social order. Born in a cabin on the southern frontier in 1767 and reared in the midst of poverty during the "hard times" of the Revolution, Jackson had had little opportunity to acquire the education and polish which so distinguished the leaders of the old Jeffersonian party. After a season of teaching school and studying law in Salisbury, North Carolina, he emigrated, in 1788, to Tennessee, where he soon became a successful attorney, and a few years later a United States Senator. But public life in Philadelphia proved as unattractive as school-teaching had been; he returned to the frontier life of his adopted State and was speedily made a judge, and as such he sometimes led posses to enforce his decrees. During the second war with England he made a brilliant campaign against the Creek Indians, who had sided with the British, and gained the reputation of being the mortal enemy of the aborigines, a reputation which added greatly to his popularity in a community which believed that the "only good Indian is a dead Indian."
At the close of the war, when most men were expecting news that the British had conquered the lower Mississippi Valley and that the Union was breaking to pieces, he proved to be the one American general who could "whip the troops who had beaten Napoleon." The battle of New Orleans made Jackson an international character, and the West was ready to crown him a hero and a savior of the nation. Nor did his arbitrary conduct in the Seminole War, or later, when he was Governor of Florida, injure him in a region where Indians, Spaniards, and Englishmen had few rights which an American need respect. The attacks of Henry Clay in the House of Representatives, and of William H. Crawford in the Cabinet, were regarded as political maneuvers. When, therefore, Jackson offered himself in 1823 as a candidate for the Presidency, most Western men welcomed him, fearing only that his age and his delicate health, of which he had said too much in public, might cut him off before he could render his country the great service of which they considered him capable. The politicians, especially those who followed Henry Clay, did their utmost to defeat him, and the votes of the West were divided almost evenly between the two backwoods rivals. But when it became clear in 1825 that Speaker Clay of the House of Representatives had added his influence to that of John Quincy Adams in order to prevent Jackson from winning, Western men everywhere made his cause their cause. "Let the people rule" became a battle-cry which was taken up in every frontier State from Georgia to Illinois.
It was time that the people devoted more attention to public affairs; they had in fact well-nigh abdicated. In Virginia, with a white population of 625,000, only 15,000 had voted in the election of 1824; in Pennsylvania, whose population was over a million, only some 47,000 had taken the trouble to go to the polls; while in Massachusetts, where the "favorite son" motive operated, just one man in nineteen exercised the right of suffrage. Government had become the business of "gentlemen" and of those who made a specialty of politics. The old Jeffersonian machine, organized as a popular protest against aristocracy and the "money power," had itself become aristocratic, and it had ceased to represent the democracy of the United States; and the democracy had lost interest in its own affairs.
When Clay, the Westerner and long-time opponent of Adams and the New England element in politics, executed his surprising somersault in February, 1825, and thus made the eastern leader President and then himself became Secretary of State, occasion was given to a second Jefferson to arouse the people to a sense of their responsibility. Jackson, a very different man from the former man of the people, seized the opportunity. Thus the campaign of 1828 began in 1825, and in the course of the bitter struggle which ensued men divided into social classes much as they had done in 1800. The small farmers of the country districts and the artisan classes in the towns of the East accepted the leadership of the West and waged relentless war on behalf of the "old hero," as Jackson came to be called. The Southern gentry who had followed Crawford, the Calhoun men, and certain remnants of ancient Federalism were now compelled to choose between the so-called radicalism of the West and John Quincy Adams, the Conservative. Two parties thus took the place of the four Republican factions which had contended for the control of the Government and especially the offices in 1824.
But contemporary with this larger national conflict there were important state and local struggles on which the success of Jackson and the West depended, and which we must survey and estimate, else the real significance of the campaign of 1828 is apt to be overlooked.
Beginning with the South, where Jackson's lieutenants were expecting their greatest gains, South Carolina was rent in twain by a conflict of social and economic forces which was soon to overshadow national issues. According to the constitutional bargain of 1809, the low country and the black belt, that is, the region of the historic river plantations and the newer cotton country, were always to have a majority in both houses of the legislature, which chose the governor, the judges, and other important officials. The reason of this was that the great majority of the slaves were held in this section, and without complete control of the Government the masters felt that their interests would be sacrificed to the democracy of the up-country. The hill and mountain region, on the other hand, had a large majority of the white population. But by the arrangement of 1809 the people of this section must content themselves with remaining in the minority in the state legislature, and suppress whatever of opposition they felt toward the institution of slavery, the cause of their effacement.
It was, however, this up-country which had been the mainstay of the Jeffersonian party. Calhoun was a son of this region, and he had grown up in the midst of the bitterest opposition to the eastern aristocracy. But gradually, under the influence of cotton-growing, he and some of his fellows yielded to the old order of the Pinckneys and the Butlers, and the older order yielded a little to the democratic group in the State. This produced the united South Carolina which gave to the country Calhoun, Lowndes, and Hayne, nationalists of the most ardent type in 1816; and for a few years it seemed that these astute leaders would play the role of the old Virginia dynasty.
But when Calhoun, with the aid of high protectionist Pennsylvania, was bending all his energies, in 1824, to winning the Presidency, there broke out an insurgency in the former Federalist section of his State which boded ill for the future. The burden of its complaint was the national tariff, which bore heavily on the cotton and rice planters. Between 1824 and 1828 the lower Carolinians developed a vindictive hostility toward the leaders of nationalism in the State and especially toward Calhoun, who was considered responsible for the oppressions of the tariff. Robert Barnwell Rhett and William Smith, two perfect representatives of aristocratic South Carolina, led the fight. Senator Hayne was among the first to yield; George McDuffie, an up-country leader, next surrendered; finally most Southern members of the National House of Representatives took up the cry against the tariff and extreme nationalism. Nothing was more certain in 1826 than that Calhoun and his nationalist party would be driven to the wall.
Vice-President Calhoun had taken note of the coming storm, and in 1827, when the woolens bill, a highly protectionist measure, was before Congress, a measure in which all the Middle States' interests were greatly concerned, he took pains to have his vote recorded against the bill. Thus he publicly announced his change of heart. A year later he was even more outspoken in his opposition to the famous "Tariff of Abominations." However, he had already made an alliance with Jackson, whose attitude on the tariff no one knew, and who was very popular with the protectionists of Pennsylvania. It was clearly understood that Jackson would serve only one term as President and that Calhoun should succeed him. The leaders of the older section of South Carolina, urging secession, were now confronted with a peculiar dilemma. A conference with Calhoun led in 1828 to a reversal of the secession movement, and culminated in the proposition that South Carolina should suspend the tariff law of the country and ask a referendum of the various States on the subject. If this failed, then secession was to be the remedy. "Nullification" was the name which this referendum soon acquired.
The attitude of South Carolina was that of every other Southern State from Virginia to Mississippi, and everywhere it was the older and more important groups of counties which so bitterly opposed the protective policy. In Virginia college boys met in formal session and resolved to wear "homespun" rather than submit to the "yoke" of the Northern manufacturers; in North Carolina the legislature declared the tariff law unconstitutional. At the commencement of the University of Georgia the orator of the occasion appeared in a suit of white cotton cloth, while his valet wore the cast-off suit of shining broadcloth. The "Tariff of Abominations," passed in 1828, was producing revolutionary results in all the region where tobacco, cotton, and rice were grown, and this was the governing section of the South.
[Footnote 1: See maps on pp. 133, 134.]
Nor was this all; Georgia was still at the point of making actual war upon the United States because the President and Congress did not remove the Creek and Cherokee Indians as rapidly as the cotton planters desired. The Cherokees had declared themselves a State within the boundaries of Georgia, defied both local and national authority, and applied to the United States Supreme Court for recognition and support. The Government of Georgia had formally spread her laws over the Indian lands and imprisoned those who resisted her sway.
This Indian problem which Jackson would have to solve was of the utmost importance to all the region from Georgia to northwestern Louisiana, for in that region lived the ambitious and prosperous cotton planters, who were bent on getting possession of all the fertile lands of their section, and the legislatures of Alabama and Mississippi followed the example of Georgia in assuming jurisdiction over all Indians within their boundaries. Jackson entertained no tender scruples about dispossessing the natives, a fact which was well known and widely advertised. When, therefore, Crawford, who had been very popular with the planters of all the South, gave up his antagonism to the Tennessee candidate, and joined with the friends of Calhoun, whom Crawford hated only a little more than he had disliked Jackson, there was no substantial resistance in any of the States, from South Carolina to Louisiana. The way was preparing for a united South and West.
If the Crawford men of the lower South gave up their hostility to Jackson and the extreme anti-nationalists of South Carolina submitted once more to "Calhoun and Jackson," it was by no means certain what the gentry of the eastern counties of North Carolina would do. They had supported Crawford in the last campaign, and there was neither Indian nor land question to compel them to support the Western candidate. Moreover, there was a bitter struggle between the east and the west of North Carolina which resembled very much the secession movement in South Carolina. The eastern men owned most of the slaves and produced the large staple crops; controlled the lawmaking and the other departments of the State Government; and its leaders were generally, if not always, the spokesmen of the State in national affairs. This position and these advantages were legacies of the constitution of 1776. The fact that they were in the minority in point of population served only to whet their appetites for more power. On the other hand, the leaders of the western section of the State had fought for twenty-five years to reform the constitution and the laws, to create new counties in order to secure proportionate representation, and to expand the suffrage in order that their majorities might be properly counted.
The bitterness of the two sections threatened to result in civil war or at least a division of the State. But the eastern men yielded and in 1835 a convention met in Raleigh. The planters were in the majority. They made concessions, however, in the matter of representation and in the popular election of the governors, which tended to reconcile the up-country people. But the control of taxation, suffrage, and representation remained securely in the hands of the legislative majority of the low-country counties. Slavery and the allied social system were henceforth immune, and the distinctions, forms, and realities of a growing aristocracy made steady encroachments upon the life of the State until the outbreak of the Civil War.
Contrary as it may seem to the ordinary political interests of such men, the North Carolina gentry accepted Jackson and the Western party in 1828, and the State was almost a unit in support of the more democratic element in the nation at the very time it was at the point of breaking to pieces locally because one section of the State was unwilling to grant the other a fair chance in the common life.
Nor was it different in Virginia. There the small counties of the east, with a minority of the white population, controlled both houses of the assembly, the governorship, the courts, and the majority of the State's representatives in Congress. This advantage, as in North Carolina, had been guaranteed by the constitution of 1776. The motive for this one-sided arrangement was the protection of slave property which, it must be said, paid the larger share of the taxes. In western Virginia, extending then to the Ohio River, there was a teeming population whose ablest leaders constantly resisted this system and demanded their rights. As elsewhere in the West the program was manhood suffrage, equal representation, and the popular election of important state officials.
After twenty-five years of agitation, a constitutional convention met in Richmond in the autumn of 1829. Reformers everywhere looked to this body in the hope that something might be done to "put slavery in a way to final extinction." Madison, Monroe, Chief Justice Marshall, and John Randolph were members. All of these favored eastern Virginia and defended the privileged minority. Thomas Jefferson Randolph, grandson of Jefferson, Philip Doddridge, and Alexander Campbell represented the western section of the State and democracy. After months of debate which covered every subject in government, and especially slavery and its possible abolition, the convention decided, in the face of serious threats of secession on the part of the up country, to grant to the more populous section only a slight increase in the number of representatives. The power of property in government was once again confirmed, and so hopeless was the outlook that prominent anti-slavery men deserted their own cause and joined the other side during the next decades.
It was not an easy thing for John Randolph, and the other champions of the eastern Virginia oligarchy to commit their cause to the democratic party of the Mississippi Valley, whose leader was the "lawless" Jackson. Yet this is what they did. Nowhere outside of South Carolina was the influence of Calhoun more effective than in Virginia, and it must have been this which turned the balance in favor of "the General."
From northern Virginia, even from eastern Maryland, to middle Georgia the case of democracy seemed doomed. John Randolph had denounced it as a monstrous "tyranny of King Numbers"; Judge Gaston, one of the purest and best men of North Carolina, declared that the cry, "let the people rule," was fallacious, and asked with great concern, "What is then to become of our system of checks and balances?" While the radical spokesmen of the South Carolina aristocracy declared that they would never submit to that "dangerous principle of majority rule."
The growth of the cotton industry between 1800 and 1830 had done much to retard the growth of democracy, so urgently advocated by Jefferson; while the interests of the cotton planters and the fears of the tobacco growers had served to "swing the leaders" of the aristocratic South into the Jackson columns. Though the price of raw cotton had declined from forty-four cents per pound in the former year to ten cents in the latter, the annual increase in the value of the total output between 1820 and 1830 was $1,000,000 and from 1830 to 1840 the value of this staple crop increased from $29,000,000 to $63,000,000, while all other items of the national export amounted only to $50,000,000 per year. Cotton was grown in a comparatively narrow belt of country extending from lower North Carolina to the Red River counties of Louisiana and Arkansas, with a total population in 1830 of little more than 1,500,000 people, of whom 500,000 were negro slaves. Yet their annual output was worth in 1830, $29,000,000 and in 1840, $63,000,000.
In the older South the tobacco crop was not appreciably greater in 1830 than it had been in 1800, though in the succeeding decade the value of the annual harvest rose from $5,000,000 to $9,000,000, and the manufacturing of tobacco became an important industry in many localities. Rice culture was at a standstill during these years, and sugar was only making a beginning; but the total of these staples, including cotton, reaches almost to two thirds of the national exports. The annual per capita income of the lower South ranged during the Jacksonian era from thirty to forty dollars, while that of the older Southern States like Virginia and Maryland was not half so great, and the average for the country as a whole fell much below that of the South. There was thus a marked contrast between the fortune of the average Middle States man and that of the cotton planters.
The result was an extraordinary movement southwestward, especially from the older South and Kentucky, where population was almost stationary during a period of twenty years. In Virginia good lands sold for less than the cost of the buildings on them. Jefferson's home, Monticello, including two hundred acres of land, sold at public auction in 1829 for $2500. Each autumn saw thousands of masters with their families and slaves take up the march over the up-country road through Danville, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, to Georgia and Alabama, or over the mountains to the valley of Virginia, whence they followed the great highland trough southwestward to the Tennessee and Tombigbee Valleys. The population of Alabama alone increased from 300,000 in 1830 to 600,000 ten years later. Unimproved lands in the cotton country sold at prices ranging from $2 to $100 per acre, and plantations spread rapidly over the better parts of the lower South. Men could afford to give away or abandon their homes in the old South in order to establish plantations in the Gulf States, for in ten years thrifty men became rich, as riches went in those days. The cotton country was a magnet which drew upon the Middle and Atlantic States for their best citizens during a period of twenty years.
While the Jackson leadership "captured" both the conservatives of Virginia and the Carolinas and the radicals of the Gulf region, the cause of democracy made great gains in the Middle States. Half of Maryland favored Jackson, and strangely enough the conservative half. Pennsylvania, the head and front of popular government since the days of Benjamin Franklin, gave every evidence of joining the standard of Jackson early in the contest. New York had held a constitutional convention in 1821 and opened the way for universal suffrage and the popular election of most state and county officers. So radical had been the sweep of reform that Chancellor Kent and other conservatives spent their energies in protest and prophecy of dire results to come. But it was probably the work of Van Buren, a conservative "boss" of New York, and of Samuel D. Ingham, a wealthy manufacturer of Pennsylvania and an ally of Calhoun, that made sure the votes of these great States; for men of the old Federalist party and extreme protectionists of both New York and Pennsylvania ranged themselves behind Jackson and his Western democracy.
If we turn now to the chances of Clay and Adams, we must look to a part of Maryland, to Delaware and New Jersey evenly divided, it seems, between the "forward and the backward-looking" men, and to New England. Connecticut abandoned her State Church in 1818 and extended the electoral franchise to all who enrolled in the militia. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine were border States and distinctly Western in their ideals, though they were in no way inclined to desert the New England leader. Massachusetts, the great State of the East, held firmly to her conservative moorings. In the constitutional convention of 1820 the liberals had failed at every point. Webster and Story had defeated the proposition for abolishing the property qualification for membership in the State Senate; and the more radical plan for overthrowing the established Congregational Church, the bulwark of steady habits in Massachusetts, was similarly voted down. Webster, like Randolph, of Virginia, and Rhett, of South Carolina, urged that property should rule in every well-ordered community, and what Webster, Randolph, and Rhett urged, their respective States adopted. Even more reactionary was little Rhode Island, where privilege and inequality were as firmly intrenched as anywhere else in the country. The suffrage was limited to freeholders and representation was denied the majority of the people. The control of governor, legislature, and courts was in the hands of the minority. In 1821, 1822, and 1824 leaders of the majority endeavored to secure reforms, but without success.
From Augusta, Maine, to Baltimore stretched the long strip of country which could be relied on to vote for John Quincy Adams and to sustain conservative ideals in government. Western New York was also inclined to Adams, and Clay was confident that he could carry Ohio and Kentucky, the conservative communities of the West, for his ally. In the main the men who supported the Administration were those who feared the rough ways of plain men, the ideals of equality and popular initiative so dear to the American heart.
The managers of Jackson's campaign were members of the United States Senate. Calhoun sat in the Vice-President's chair; Van Buren was the leader of the Middle States group of the opposition; John Randolph was there and ever ready to turn his wonderful gifts of ridicule and sarcasm against the Puritan who sat in the "Mansion" and "wasted the money of the people"; Nathaniel Macon, one of the most popular of all the Senators, opposed the second Adams as earnestly as he had fought the first; George Poindexter, of Mississippi, was one of the most powerful politicians of the cotton kingdom, and he showed a never-failing hostility to "Clay and his President"; but Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, was the most effective, perhaps, of all these men who were bent on the overthrow of Adams and Clay.
They kept the "bargain and sale" charge alive till the very day of the election. Benton urged on every possible occasion the adoption of constitutional amendments forbidding the President to appoint members of Congress to office, restricting the presidential term to four years without possibility of reelection, and limiting the powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. He also kept the Western squatters on the public lands closely attached to him by promising that if he ever came to power their rights to the farms they had taken without leave should be confirmed by law. Nor did he forget to denounce Adams for "wantonly giving away Texas" in the negotiations with Spain in 1819. Every movement of the Government was combated at every point and defeated if possible. Van Buren, Calhoun, and Benton were an able trio, and they resorted for four years to every possible device to discredit the President and his Secretary of State and at the same time to secure the election of Andrew Jackson.
Duff Green, of Missouri, was brought to Washington to establish and edit The Telegraph, the organ of the opposition which began operations in 1826. It gave currency to the campaign literature and educated the people in the cause of the West. Adams was an aristocrat; he lived sumptuously every day at the public expense; he did not associate with the people; and he aped the courts of Europe, where he had spent so much of his life. The people of the South and West reached the point where they could believe anything against John Quincy Adams. No other President of the United States has ever been so shamefully treated, save one, and that one was Martin Van Buren, the man who was leading the onslaughts of 1828.
Adams and Clay were helpless; it was difficult for them to secure popular allies or get a fair hearing. Richard Rush, the son of the Jeffersonian radical of 1800, was made candidate for the Vice-Presidency in the hope of winning Pennsylvania; Clay did his utmost to stem the tide in the West; Daniel Webster was, of course, on the side of Adams; William Wirt and James Barbour stood up bravely in Virginia for a doomed cause. But these earnest and patriotic men could not rally the normal strength of the conservatives, for the Southern planters had accepted Jackson and the Middle States conservatives were demoralized by the Van Buren and Ingham activity.
The rough backwoods General had proved a politician too astute for the oldest heads. He had been able to enlist the services of Northern men who did not believe in democracy, and he had the loyal support of Southern leaders who were just then breaking down the power of democracy in all the older States of their section. He was not less fortunate in the expression of his opinions on public questions. On the tariff, the burning question of the time, he had no views; on internal improvements he had even less to say. Even on the subject of the free distribution of the public lands he was silent, though most Westerners took his hostility to the Indians to mean that he would do what was desired. Jackson was "all things to all men" in 1828, and this discreet attitude seems to have been effective, though it was to bring trouble when he became President.
When the vote was counted, it was found that the people had been aroused as they had not been before since 1800. The cry, "Shall the people rule?" was answered by Pennsylvania by a vote for Jackson of 100,000 as against 50,000 for Adams. Virginia gave Jackson as many votes in 1828 as had been cast for all parties in 1824. And the total vote of the country for Jackson was 647,276 as against 508,064 for Adams. The General had won every electoral vote of the South and the West; and both Pennsylvania and New York had sustained him. New England was solid for her candidate, and New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland returned Adams majorities. The lines were drawn, as had been foreseen, just as in the contest between Jefferson and John Adams twenty-eight years before; and in general the attitudes of the social classes were the same.
The second alliance of South and West had been effected, and "the people" had come to power a second time, only the West was now the dominant element. How would the West and "the people" use their power?
J. S. Bassett's Life of Andrew Jackson (1911) is the best work on that subject, though James Parton's Life of Jackson (ed. of 1887) is still the best for a documentary account. The biographies of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams in the American Statesmen series are the best for these men. Of more importance for a view of social and political conditions of the South and the East are: the Debates of the constitutional conventions of Massachusetts (1820), New York (1821), Virginia (1829), and North Carolina (1835), and The Memoir of John Quincy Adams, in twelve large volumes, which covers minutely the period of 1825 to 1848. This work appeared in 1874-76. It is a remarkable record of a remarkable man. J. B. McMaster's History of the United States (1900-13) is a life of the people which no library can afford to be without, and J. Schouler's History of the United States under the Constitution (revised ed. 1894-99) is equally good, giving a fuller account of the political and constitutional development of the country. A. B. Hart's The American Nation (1904-08) is a fuller cooeperative work by the leading scholars of the United States. The volumes which bear upon the period in hand will be cited in succeeding chapters. Special studies of importance are: C. H. Ambler's Sectionalism in Virginia (1910); D. F. Houston's Critical Study of Nullification in South Carolina (1896); W. A. Schaper's Sectionalism in South Carolina (1900); and H. M. Wagstaff's States Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina (1906).
Tens of thousands of eager people witnessed the inauguration of Andrew Jackson on March 4, 1829; they crowded the streets, stood upon the house-tops, and peered out from every open window; they jostled the attendants at the White House and overturned the bowls and jars which contained the ices and wines intended for the entertainment of the new President and his friends. "The people have come to power," said a chastened admirer of Henry Clay as she watched sadly the wreckage of the dainties which dainty hands had prepared, and as she looked with dismay upon the wearers of rough and dirty boots striding over costly carpets where hitherto only gentlemen and ladies had trod. It was a happy occasion to the unthinking but honest democrats who gloried in the success of their "hero," but a sad warning to the more refined who had been accustomed to see things done in due form and stateliness.
[Footnote 2: This term is used to indicate those who believed in democracy, not those who called themselves Democrats. The distinction will be observed throughout the book.]
But neither the uninformed masses who looked on with delight that bright day nor the cultured people whose hearts sank within them as they saw the old order pass away recked aught of what was to come during the next four years. Possibly the old man, whom everybody called "the General," and who many feared could not live out his term, or the solemn-visaged Vice-President, who had been filling half the cabinet positions with his own partisans, saw dimly what was to follow these joyous opening days of a new regime, for he knew how unstable was the base upon which the new structure rested.
The people who composed this new regime, the men who voted for Andrew Jackson and who shouted at and derided sturdy John Quincy Adams as he retired from the Presidency that 4th of March, were the rank and file of the United States. But the nucleus of the party of Jackson was the West. In the region which extends from Georgia to the Sabine, save in New Orleans alone, no name equaled that of the man who had driven the Indians like chaff before the wind at the battle of Horseshoe Bend, and who a year later had defeated the regiments of Great Britain near New Orleans. "The General" was known and admired all over the great valley of the Mississippi as the friend of the people, while John Quincy Adams had resisted the demands of the frontier and had actually sent a regiment of the United States Army into Georgia to defeat the purposes of a popular governor, who was driving the hated Indians from coveted cotton lands. Jackson met, therefore, with little or no opposition in this region, and the Southwestern politicians who had fought for Adams and Clay in the campaign of 1828 had signed their political death-warrants.
In the older West, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio, Henry Clay had been the natural leader; and until about 1820, when he had championed the cause of the National Bank as against local interests and local banks, he had been the most popular man west of the Alleghanies. From the beginning of the Adams Administration he had lost steadily till in 1828 he tasted for the first time the gall of political defeat. In these older Western communities it was still a reproach to a public man to ally himself with New England and the United States Bank, though he might favor the protective tariff, and he must support internal improvements. In addition to supporting John Quincy Adams after 1825, Clay led a "fast and extravagant" life in Washington, which only added to his unpopularity in the West. In 1831 it was with much difficulty, and after a close contest with Richard M. Johnson, that he was returned to the United States Senate. General Jackson had completely won the leadership of the Clay territory and the affections of the plain farmers.
In the Northwest there were other large areas of fertile lands in the possession of the hated Indians, and there, as in the Southwest, the most popular leader was he who believed and taught that the quickest way to build up the country was to take immediate possession of these lands. In Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois the small farmers and the pioneers were almost as enthusiastic followers of Jackson as were their economic kinsmen of the Gulf region.
With these backwoods States thus devoted to the man to whom Chief Justice Marshall had sorrowfully administered the oath of office, it was easy for the leaders of the new regime to make strong appeal to the mountain counties of the Middle States and South, whose political idol had been Thomas Jefferson and whose people were only a generation removed from the pioneer stage of development. With the exception of some of the New England emigres of western New York, the peasant proprietors of all the up-country counties of the Middle States gave Jackson their allegiance; while south of Maryland, except in a few counties of western Virginia, almost every man in the hill country was a stanch defender of the first Western President. Thus in the West and in the interior of the States which bordered upon the Alleghany Mountains, Jackson had a great compact following which for years to come was to give him the advantage over all his opponents.
The radical and enthusiastic wing of the new party was the Southwest, closely followed by the Northwest; the older West and the up-country of the Middle States and South composed the "solid" element; while the low-country men, the planters of Virginia and the Carolinas, regarded askance the democratic leader whom they had reluctantly helped to the Presidency. Of real organization and party discipline there was little, and the beliefs and principles of the various groups of the party were sometimes antagonistic. On one thing only were most of these men united: on the necessity of keeping New England out of the control of the Government. Surely any one who knew the actual conditions of 1829, the ambitions and the smouldering animosities of the Jackson lieutenants, must have faced the future with more than ordinary doubt and anxiety.
But the people who shouted at the inauguration and who had voted "the ticket" the preceding November did not know the feelings of their leaders. They thought that this country was a democracy and that a majority of the electorate was entitled to rule. Their ideals were those of the Declaration of Independence, which were not very popular in New England, and which were just then being repudiated in the planter sections of the South. They lived the lives of simple farmers and daily practiced the doctrine of social equality, and hence they could not understand why others should not do the same, or why there should be anything difficult or complex in the work of the incoming President.
In all the Western States almost every office was filled by popular election. Legislatures met annually and unpopular men or measures could be promptly recalled, to employ a modern term. Even the judges of the courts were subject to frequent election and were quite attentive to popular opinion; while United States Senators must canvass for votes in ardent campaigns which strongly resembled the primary contests of the South and West to-day. But this democracy of the larger section of the country which supported Jackson was counterbalanced by the prestige and experience of its allies of the South, where, by reason of the three-fifths rule of representation for the slaves, which gave the master of slaves a privileged position, and of long political habit, a few planters exercised power out of all proportion to their numbers.
Still the history of the country after 1812 indicated that the Western voters and not the Eastern leaders would control the Government while Jackson was President. These voters were nationalists and their position made them look to the Federal Government for better roads and improved markets; they were expansionists who not only coveted the lands of the Indians, but wanted also to seize the territory of their neighbors. They were already taking possession of Texas, and Thomas H. Benton and Lewis Cass, of Michigan, their most popular leaders after Jackson, were already the exponents of an early imperialism which would never rest until the shores of the Pacific became the western frontier of the United States. In every State that bordered on the Mississippi this sentiment was ardent, and many good men were ready to make war upon Mexico for Texas or upon England for Oregon, whose boundaries no one knew and whose title had been held jointly by the United States and Great Britain since 1818.
Moreover, the Western men occupied a peculiar position in the country because of the fact that a large number of them had bought their lands from the Federal Government on easy terms, at two dollars or even a dollar and a quarter an acre, and were still in debt for them to the Government or the banks or other creditors. This indebtedness still further stimulated their restlessness of character. The land laws of the United States were apparently liberal, but unless the settler could obtain land near a navigable stream, it was a most difficult matter to buy even a quarter section and make the improvements necessary to successful farming. And since all the river area had long since been occupied, the Westerners of 1830 had bought their land in the remote districts and begun the hard struggle of "paying out." The distance to markets made this an almost hopeless task, and the holders of the frontier farms came to think their lot a peculiarly hard one. They resisted always; and in hard years, after driving a herd of cattle or a drove of hogs to the distant market and receiving therefor barely the cost of production, they were angry and resentful.
The frontier remedy for these ills was an "easier" currency or high prices for commodities, or stay laws against creditors who pressed for their money. And since a great number of the Western farmers had simply taken up their lands, before they were thrown open to sale, and made improvements on them without procuring titles, they feared the enforcement of the federal law against them and clamored for a preemption system which would secure them their land, when the day of sales did come, at the minimum price, $1.25 per acre. A still better plan was already strongly urged, the free gift of small tracts of land to all who would go West and build homes. Not only would this be good for the home-seeker, but it would result in the rapid upbuilding of the great wastes of the country. Animated by such purposes as these, Benton and his colleagues in Congress were constantly gaining strength as their constituents increased in number.
Thus the restless but devoted followers of Jackson were developing a program: the removal of the Indians in order that more cotton and corn might be grown; the seizure of the territory contiguous to the western frontier, even at the cost of war with Mexico and England; the giving of free homesteads to all who would go West and join in the upbuilding of the Mississippi Commonwealths; and the improvement of roadways at national expense in order that Western products might find better markets. These were the things which the Westerners ardently desired and which it was hoped the new President would be able to obtain for them. Incidentally, he was expected to set up the rule of the people in the national capital, and to substitute a more simple life and etiquette for the formal and fashionable manners which had come into vogue with Monroe and his Cabinet.
The strength of the Western people was great, and to the East it appeared ominous. They numbered in 1830 nearly 4,000,000 souls as compared with 12,500,000 for the country as a whole, and their increase in the preceding decade had run from 22 per cent in Kentucky to 185 per cent in Illinois. In the National House of Representatives the West cast 47 votes in a total of 213; in the Senate their strength was 18 in a total of 48. But this does not fairly represent their influence. In western New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia there were more than a million people who counted themselves Westerners, while in the Carolinas and Georgia a majority, or more than another half-million, must be reckoned as adherents of the cause of the "Trans-alleghany." Thus about 6,000,000 of the total 12,500,000 were Western in character and ideals, to say nothing of the large frontier element in New England.
In economic strength, however, these Jackson States and communities were much weaker. They were isolated. Their surplus crops had no value save as they were produced within reach of navigable rivers. Of these the 5,500,000 people living in the region drained by the Mississippi and the other streams which fall into the Gulf of Mexico, exported about $17,800,000 worth of commodities in 1830, a per capita value of less than $4. And most of this surplus output came from the cotton counties of the lower South, where only a small proportion of the population of the West dwelt. Still, the herds of cattle and droves of swine that were driven southward to the cotton communities or over the mountains to Eastern cities, and the large quantities of grain which, after 1825, found its way to market through the Erie Canal, added greatly to and perhaps doubled the income of the West from exports down the Mississippi. When all is told, however, these isolated people were in the main very poor, as the narratives of travelers and the journals of preachers attest on every page.
Yet every year added thousands to the numbers of Eastern men who migrated West to enjoy some of the liberty of a region where lands were cheap and the social life unconventional; every decade added new voices and able leaders to the Western group in Congress, who clamored unceasingly for the enactment of laws aimed at the rapid development of that section. New England, where the rise of industrial towns necessitated an increasing number of laborers, took fright, or had never ceased to be alarmed, at the westward movement of population; and Eastern members of Congress, under one pretext or another, opposed every demand which came up from the West, every petition of the "squatters" on the public domain. In the Middle States the building of numerous canals, turnpikes, and railways called for both skilled and unskilled laborers. But if everybody ran off to the West when wages were unsatisfactory, these improvements could not be made and the old communities would languish and decay.
Virginia and the South were less disturbed at the growth of the West, because of their system of slavery, and because the votes of the new States could be relied on to support Virginian and Southern policies in Congress—a legacy of the old Jeffersonian alliance of the South with the early West; and also because of the similar economic and social life of the two sections. But even the Old Dominion in the sore economic distress of the late twenties, due in the main to the desertion of her tobacco-fields and workshops by thousands of her most energetic sons, who went to the rich cotton country, wavered in her loyalty to the younger States of the West. John Randolph ridiculed in merciless fashion the "sharp-witted" Westerners, whom he would avoid in the highway as "one would a pickpocket"; and in both the Carolinas there was a fear and a dread of the growing West, whose ideals were too Jeffersonian and whose power waxed greater with the passing years. Yet Calhoun, Hayne, and other able Southerners remained true to the new region and supported Benton in his debates with Foote and Webster in 1830, perhaps because the whole Jackson program of 1829 was based upon the alliance of these forces in the national life.
If the political plans of the Western men of 1830 were ambitious and far-reaching, the lives of the shrewd pioneers were simple, hard, and narrow. The men wore coats when the weather was cold, and found shoes more of a nuisance than a comfort during half the year; and the women rejoiced if they received a "store" bonnet once in two years. Wants were few and the annual per capita expense beyond what was produced at home was seldom as great as $10. Peter Cartwright counted himself rich when he learned that the Methodist annual conference to which he belonged had added $12 to his regular stipend of $100 a year.
Most men, including the clergy, owned or rented farms and followed the plow in season, while wives and children did outdoor work from morning till night. Houses were built by the aid of neighbors in a single day, and extra rooms were improvised by the judicious hanging of quilts and curtains. A door in front and another in the rear allowed plenty of fresh air, though the large crevices between the logs usually rendered this superfluous. Floors were made of logs split in halves and laid "with backs downward." Beds and chairs were home-made and especially intended for the use of the older members of the family, boys and girls accommodating themselves with stools or blocks of wood sawed for the purpose. Meals were prepared in a few moments at the broad fireside, where a huge crane aided the mother in swinging her kettles on or off the blazing fire. In every pretentious home there was a loom for the weaving of cotton and woolen cloth for family or neighborhood consumption; and late at night the steady thump of the beam proclaimed the industry of the busy housewife as she put in the last threads of her "fifth" or "sixth yard." Few were so wealthy that they could afford the broadcloth which came up the rivers from New Orleans or over the Erie Canal from New York; and when some migrating Virginia squire or Kentucky colonel, master of a thousand acres of land, did so disport himself on Sundays or at the races, he appeared in his glossy suit, made by the hand of his devoted spouse, wrinkled and fretted in a hundred places, not unlike Lincoln when he first spoke at Cooper Institute, New York.
Life was simple on the Western farm or distant frontier, but pleasure, too, had its place, English sports of Angevin times serving the place of baseball or golf of to-day. In the older West, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, the race-course was the common playground where horses and men ran their rounds and won their prizes. To drink deeply of the strong "corn" or "rye" was as common as is the drinking of wine in France; and races, corn-huskings, or weddings were seldom closed without drunkenness, and oftentimes fisticuffs or the more fatal duel with knife or pistol. Jackson had "killed his man," and Benton had been knocked through a trapdoor into the basement of a Nashville bar-room; Clay and Poindexter, the Mississippi Governor and Senator, had had more than one encounter in which life was set against life.
If men held human life cheap, they held woman's honor more than dear, and to give currency to a tale of slander was tantamount to half a dozen challenges. Women were in the minority in the West, and although they did not vote, they were still of utmost importance in homes where clothing was handmade and the needs of numerous children increased daily. Henry Clay was one of thirteen or fourteen brothers and sisters, while Thomas Marshall, the father of the Chief Justice, carried ten or twelve children with him to his Western home about the year 1781. But the sorrows of the pioneer women and the waste of human material were extraordinary. In those days of hardship and ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of sanitation, few knew how to save their children from death due to the simplest diseases, and the student to-day reads the sad story in the many tiny tombstones of the old family cemeteries, knowing well that the great majority rest in unmarked graves. Many were born and many died without a fair chance at normal existence.
Western men were seldom members of organized churches, though the fear of the Deity, natural to those who witnessed the great "freshets" and the storms and cyclones which swept over the plains, carrying entire villages with them or cutting wide swaths through the primeval forests, was a powerful influence upon everyday conduct. Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, with their strict and hard Calvinism, penetrated first the wilderness beyond the mountains and built their rude log churches, in which stern preachers, like Samuel Doak, of Tennessee, or Jonathan Going, of Ohio, warned men against the wrath to come and the fiery furnace below, whose surging flames were ever ready to swallow up and consume stiff-necked, yet never-dying sinners. The simple and superstitious minds of the neglected West flocked to these little churches or to great camps where revivalists, like James McCreary, of Kentucky, or the later Bishop Soule, of Ohio, preached for weeks in succession and seemed to work miracles hardly less wonderful than those of New Testament times. Hundreds were "stricken" on a single day and were later gathered into the church clothed and in their right minds. Before 1830 the greater denominations of the East and South realized the importance of the West as a semi-destitute land to which missionaries should be sent, though by this time the churches of the older border and of most of the great valley were self-supporting and the population could no longer complain that the Gospel had never been preached to them.
While the civilizing hand of the churches was being spread over the West, schools and colleges were built and opened to students. The liberal land grants of the Federal Government were made to serve the cause of common schools, while institutions of higher learning flourished at Lexington, Natchez, Granville (Ohio), and Hanover (Indiana),—schools where many of the statesmen of the Civil War period were trained and where preachers prepared themselves for their strenuous labors in a poor country. The civilizing forces of religion and education were rapidly leavening the lump of hard Western life and preparing it for the great days and the awful struggle that were so soon to come. Books found their way into the Athens of the West, as Lexington was called, and gradually, under the fostering care of Henry Clay, the Mechanics' Library came to play an important part. St. Louis, too, boasted of its Mercantile Library; and there were numerous other collections of religious writings, history, and the English poets, mostly in private hands like those of John M. Peck, of Illinois. Newspapers, such as the Republican of St. Louis, the Maysville Eagle, or the Louisville Advertiser, carried their weekly or semi-weekly burden of neighborhood gossip and political news to near-by villages and distant settlements.
The roads were also improving and steadily expanding the area of productive farming, though all, or nearly all, led to the river ports or the old fort towns like La Porte, Indiana, or Detroit and Cleveland on the Lakes. The Erie and the Ohio Canals were already turning exports and communication northeastward, while the Lake steamers were adding their share to the development of the Western frontier; but the great river steamers, the City of New Orleans and the Crescent, which the preachers compared to ancient Babylon, as centers of vice and lewd fashion, were the marvels of the West, and they carried the burden of grain, tobacco, and cotton which crowded the wharves of New Orleans. Cincinnati was the pork-packing and manufacturing center of the West, sending its salted meats and farm implements to the plantations of the lower South in ever-increasing volume. St. Louis was the home of the most important commercial monopoly of the time, the American Fur Company, which had an undue influence in national politics, and of which John Jacob Astor was the millionaire head, to whom all Americans looked up as one of the great figures of his generation. From the old half-French, half-American town caravans of explorers, trappers, and traders set out each spring for the Far Northwest, whence they returned annually with their loads of furs and their tales of the wonderful Oregon country. But New Orleans, with its population of 50,000, its European life and rather easy morals, its slave marts and miles of cotton wharves, was the wonder of the world to Western eyes like those of young Abraham Lincoln, who visited the city about this time. There, rich men lived in splendid mansions, served by scores of negro slaves; there, great newspapers were published and shrewd speculators from all parts of the world bought cotton and imported luxuries for the newly rich of the Southwest.
It was this great West, pulsating with life and vigor, filled with hope for the future, restless and eager, at once democratic and imperialistic, which put the resolute and dictatorial Andrew Jackson in the President's chair in 1829. And never was constituency more truly represented than was that of the West in the wiry old man whom they called "Old Hickory." Accustomed to the hardships of the poor in his youth and to the responsibility of the well-to-do merchant and cotton planter in middle life, he had experienced most that was common to his fellows and had gained a prestige which in their admiring eyes surpassed that of all other men since Thomas Jefferson. Brave and generous, plain-spoken and sometimes boisterous, he embodied most of the qualities that compelled admiration throughout the Mississippi Valley. No matter what Webster or Calhoun or even Clay said of "Old Hickory," it was not believed in the back-country until the President himself had confirmed the story. Jackson was the second American President who so understood "his people" that he could interpret them and by intuition scent the course the popular mind would take—particularly in the West.
To be sure, there were small groups of Westerners who opposed him and whom he did not represent: some of the counties of Ohio, a part of the Blue-Grass region of Kentucky, and a narrow strip of Mississippi which lay in the southwestern part of the State, and finally the French and mercantile elements of New Orleans; but these were never strong enough to deprive him of any object at which he aimed. It was well-nigh "King Andrew I," as some Eastern papers were accustomed to term him in a weak attempt at ridicule.
Thus appeared the new regime in 1829, in so far as its Western majority and base of support were concerned. How the conservative East, with its serious doubts about democracy, and the older Southern leaders, uneasy lest slavery should be undermined, would find themselves in the new system is a problem which our next chapters must seek to disclose.
F. J. Turner's The Rise of the New West (1906) is the best brief account of social and economic conditions in the United States just prior to 1830. J. B. McMaster's History of the United States, vol. IV, chap. XXXIII, and vol. V, chap. XLV; T. H. Clay's Henry Clay, in American Crises biographies, Theodore Roosevelt's Life of Thomas H. Benton, in American Statesmen series, and Bassett's Life of Andrew Jackson, already cited, give the principal facts about their subjects. T. Flint's History and Geography of the Mississippi Valley (1832); J. Hall's Letters from the West (1828) and Statistics of the West (1836); early numbers of the American Almanacs; Peter Cartwright's The Backwoods Preacher (1860); Alfred Brunson's A Western Pioneer (1858); and the various denominational histories supply the needful social background for an understanding of the West. Margaret Bayard Smith's The First Forty Years of Washington Society (edited by Gaillard Hunt, 1906) and K. W. Colgrove's Attitude of Congress toward the Pioneers of the West, in Iowa Journal of History and Politics (1910), give good reports of Eastern opinion of the West. And American State Papers, on Public Lands and Indian Affairs, are excellent for treatment of land and Indian problems.
When the West under the guidance and tutelage of Jackson, Calhoun, and Benton took possession of the national administration in 1829, the older and more cultured elements and classes of the East trembled for their country and for the institutions they held dear. The day was dark to John Quincy Adams and his followers, not only because they had been deprived of power, but because the rural sections of the East, the towns and villages which had been active and prosperous from 1783 to 1807, showed almost as many signs of stagnation and premature decay as did the Old Dominion, where public men were in a state of alarm and dismay. For fifteen years the highways of New York and Pennsylvania had borne their burden of New England emigrants, laden with their meager belongings, as they journeyed westward to the Mohawk country, western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other rising communities of the West. Between 1820 and 1830 the population of New England as a whole increased but slightly, while in many counties of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut there was an actual decline. Ambitious young men or discouraged heads of families moved northeastward to the freer lands of Maine or to the Far West, without seeming love for the older haunts or thought for the fortunes of the Commonwealths which had given them birth. And New York, whose population increased from 1,400,000 in 1820 to 2,400,000 in 1840, drew heavily upon her eastern neighbors; Pennsylvania, of more steady habits, drew less from New England than her immediate neighbors, though both New York and Pennsylvania gave freely to the West. There was thus a steady drift of the people from their Eastern homes to the better opportunities of the Middle States, while from these, in turn, large numbers joined the more courageous who were never content until they built their cabins along the river borders or on the prairies of the Northwest.
The total population of the country in 1830 was nearly 13,000,000, while that of the East, including New England, the Middle States, and Maryland, was a little more than 6,000,000. Between 1820 and 1840 the population of the country increased from 9,654,000 to 17,669,000; that of the East increased from 4,850,000 to 7,350,000, of which 650,000 had come from Europe. This represented a growth of only fifty per cent in twenty years. But the rival South, as a whole, and this includes Kentucky and Missouri, had increased her population during the same period from 4,009,000 to 7,748,000, a growth of ninety per cent; while the West, as a whole, including Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri, had grown from less than 1,000,000 to nearly 4,000,000. These facts were significant and really distressing to conservative politicians; they explain the jealous rivalry of the sections, and the alliance of the South and West foreboded the day when the more cultivated and the better settled region of the young nation, if it may be called a nation, would find itself in a hopeless minority.
If we add to this the fact that the lands of the East were the poorest in the Union and that their total area was less than 175,000 square miles, while those of the South were counted rich and embraced an area of 880,000 square miles, we shall understand how statesmen who listened to the jubilations of the Jackson men felt and envisaged the future—a future which the South alone might command; but which she would certainly dominate if she could only succeed in keeping the West true to her present allegiance.
But economic and social changes were taking place which gave the darkening cloud a silver lining. On an irregular but narrow belt of land stretching from southeastern Maine to the Chesapeake Bay manufacturing establishments had been erected, towns and cities had sprung into existence as if by magic, and migration from the poor farms and the hard conditions of New England country life was also turning to the mill centers, and thus giving promise of a new East, whose life should be industrial and urban like that of smoky, grimy Lancashire, England. The older commercial and seafaring interests, which had given the Federalists their power and made the American flag known on every sea, were now giving way to the vigorous young captains of industry whose mills at Lowell, Providence, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore gave employment to thousands of people. Much of the money which had made the New Englanders go down to the sea in ships was now invested in manufactures. The woolen mills of the East produced in 1820 a little more than $4,000,000 worth of cloth, the cotton mills, $4,834,000; but in 1830 the yearly manufactures of wool, cotton, and iron were estimated by the Government as worth $58,500,000. Yet the total investment in these enterprises was not much in excess of $100,000,000. In Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania the growth had been miraculous, and the profits were enormous, if we except one or two years for the woolen interests.
So that while the total annual crop value of Southern plantations amounted to $40,000,000, and the per capita wealth of the white people of the so-called black belt was very large, the returns from three industries located in a much narrower industrial belt of the East were more than a third greater. The taxable value of the slaves who produced most of the cotton and tobacco was not less than $1,000,000,000; the total investments of the East in manufactures of all kinds was certainly not more than a fourth as great as that in slaves. And what made this development the more significant was the fact that nearly all that the black belt produced was sold in Europe, while nearly all that the industrial belt produced was sold to the people of the United States, mostly to States which were not engaged in manufacturing at all.
A portentous revolution was taking place. Before 1820 nearly all the wool of the country had been made into cloth by hand in the homes of the people, and the ratio of home manufactures to population was about the same in most of the States. Now the sheep-raisers sold their wool to the mill men, who sold the country the finished product and whose factories were concentrated in a small district. The cotton mills had been a negligible economic factor in 1812; now their owners employed a capital of $30,000,000 to $35,000,000 and supplied work for 70,000 laborers. From the farms of the interior, where life was in the open, the poorer and less ambitious elements of the population, who were not attracted to the West, were drawn to the growing industrial towns, where they lived, a family in a room, worked twelve to fourteen hours a day, amidst unsanitary and even immoral surroundings, for wages which ranged from one dollar to six dollars per week. The cost of living was, to be sure, correspondingly low; but when the year of toil for men, women, and children of all ages was told, there was usually an unpaid account at the company's store, and the chance of bettering one's worldly fortunes appeared almost hopeless. Emigration to the West was the only escape, and the difficulties of such an escape, the cost of sustenance for the long journey, on foot, the greater cost of building a cabin in the forest and maintaining one's family till a crop could be harvested, and the necessity of buying the land on which the cabin was to be raised, made the undertaking heroic. Thus, when the mill life was once begun it was seldom deserted.
Without educational advantages, save in the most rudimentary way, without any fair prospect of ever becoming independent or of materially improving their status, these mill workers kept up the daily round of labor, earning the millions which were laying the foundations of a new and greater East, eventually a new United States, and voting, in so far as they exercised the right of suffrage at all, for the cause of their masters, against the "slave-drivers" of the South and for protection to manufactures as a means of defending themselves against their poorer brethren of Europe. As to their total number, we have no more reliable estimate than that of McMaster, who says there were not less than two million operatives in all lines of industry in 1825. Nobody thought of these people as slaves; and most people thought they must be happy to escape the dull life of the country, and that fourteen hours' work was a normal human exercise. A worthless father who lived on the labor of little children of his own begetting was counted lucky to have children to work for him; and the girl who entered the primrose path as a possible way of escape from her hard surroundings was then as now promptly ruled out of the pale of human sympathy and consigned to the lake of everlasting fire and brimstone.
Another great interest had grown to immense proportions in the East of 1830—the financial. Beginning with the flush times of Hamilton's leadership, the financier had grown in power and influence, sometimes purposely organizing a monopolistic control over the money of the public, as in the case of the Suffolk Bank of Boston, sometimes mercilessly robbing depositors, as in the notorious defalcation of the Derby Bank of Connecticut in 1825, until it had become a serious national problem not merely to regulate the currency of the country, but to curb the rapacity of those who, under one pretense or another, violated the laws of all the States in order to heap up hasty fortunes. In 1815 there had been 208 banks in the country, mainly in the Middle States and New England, with a capital of $82,000,000; at the end of the year 1833 there were 502 banks with a capital of $168,829,000. At the end of the second war with England, there were $17,000,000 of specie in the banks; eighteen years later, when the capital had doubled, loans had greatly increased, and notes in circulation were $61,000,000, there were still just $17,000,000 of gold and silver in all the banks.
The business of the East naturally tended to the concentration of the financial resources of the country within her towns, but the location of 414 of the 502 banks of the country in the narrow section under consideration would seem to indicate something more than a natural tendency. The six million people of the East enjoyed three times as many banking facilities, when we consider the amount of money in circulation, as the seven million Southerners and Westerners. New York alone had a banking capital of $28,000,000, Massachusetts $21,000,000, and the per capita circulation of money in the East was nearly $9, while that of the West was $2. To him that hath shall be given is a familiar axiom which seemed doubly true of the United States at the time of Jackson's accession to power.
All signs pointed to a congestion of the financial resources of the whole country in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. The great National Bank, with its $35,000,000 capital and loans of $40,000,000, was located in Philadelphia; New York City had not so strong a banking system, but the growth of her real estate values was $40,000,000 in the five years preceding 1831; and the tax valuation of the property of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, in which Boston was located, was $86,000,000 as against $208,000,000 for the whole State.
The masters of this region were reaching out for the commerce of the West through the Erie Canal, which made northern and central Ohio the hinterland of New York; through the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which were aimed at western Virginia and the Ohio Valley. The shipping interests of New England and New York did the same for the South, whose millions of bales of cotton all went north or to Europe in eastern-made and eastern-owned vessels. And while these enterprising leaders sought to control the commerce of the country, they also knitted together their own towns and river valleys by canals and turnpikes. Boston and New Haven were almost united by canals and railroads in 1830; the Delaware and the Susquehanna were paralleled far into the interior in order to bring the produce of the country to the manufacturing centers. And a railway connected Philadelphia with the rich Susquehanna Basin, whose commerce had hitherto been controlled by Baltimore. Pittsburg was actually tied to the East before 1835 by water and railroad routes. Trade, manufactures, and finance; railways, canals, and home markets were the great subjects of conversation in the East, just as cotton, slaves, and land formed the trinity of Southern thinking.
The men who owned the industrial plants and managed the large banks and projected the ambitious railway and canal systems, the stockholders and the officers, the factors and storekeepers, were drawn from the same sturdy New England and Middle States stock, the small farmers and little merchants who had composed the democracy which had fought the Revolution. Retired sea-captains and owners of sailing-vessels joined the new regime as profits came in and the art of watering stock was understood. Throughout the East, from Chesapeake Bay to Augusta, Maine, wherever there were good waterfalls, great brick buildings were rising story upon story, proclaiming the new prosperity and enticing the hordes of workers so necessary to the new system. The old-fashioned mansions of retired traders or prosperous shipbuilders, which had so long adorned the hills of the coast towns, were giving way to the larger houses of the captains of industry who built up the inland towns or created the suburbs of the greater cities.
Like the planters of the South, with their two million slaves, these able and prosperous makers of a new era in the East had their two million operatives, and as in the planting districts, the working day was from sun to sun. Carrying the comparison further, the industrial and financial region was relatively small, embracing much less of the area of the country than did that of the black belt.
[Footnote 3: See maps of tobacco and cotton belts on pp. 133, 134.]
From southeastern Maine to Boston, Providence, New Haven, New York City, and on to Baltimore, with a Western extension to Pittsburg, this irregular, now widening, now contracting, strip of country extended. It embraced the strategic positions, the falls of the rivers, the places whence ships could sail laden with the products of the industries or return with the raw materials necessary to their operation; it included the old commercial towns where the surplus capital of the East had been collected and where now gathered the populations which composed the districts whose spokesmen exerted the real strength of the North in the National Congress. It was this articulate East, the growing power of industry and finance, the promise of greater prosperity to come, which drew to it, like iron filings to a magnet, the talented and the ambitious men of the time, just as the black belt was the articulate part of the South for which men of ability and influence spoke in the national assemblies which gathered from year to year in Washington.
But the older mercantile and seafaring interests sometimes resisted the industrial movement and made precarious alliances with the South on the basis of a national free-trade policy. The great Boston merchants actually turned to Hayne, of South Carolina, in 1827, to represent them and their cause in Congress. The Winslows, Goddards, and Lees who thus appealed to a Southern Senator were representatives of the older order, of the same declining class in New York and Philadelphia which had in years past controlled affairs in the East and made alliances with the aristocratic leaders of the South. In a hopeless minority in their own States before 1830, they looked to the South for relief, and at least understood the politics of the planters. Their successors composed the nucleus of the party of Cushing, Everett, and Winthrop in 1860. It is difficult for us in our day of great things to understand the industrial and social revolution of the decade which preceded the inauguration of the first Western President, and it was difficult for men to make the transition from the small farmer system of Jefferson's day to the industrial regime of 1830; many good people were broken in the process, while whole classes of the population exchanged the life of the open country for that of the crowded and unsanitary towns, exchanged a rude and hard independence for a semi-servile subjection.
The new Eastern regime readily enlisted the support of the old professional classes. The clergy and the votaries of the law, always doing the bidding of the strongest in society, promptly took their places in the system. When dignitaries of an Eastern town gradually laid aside their rough farmers' clothes and put on the smooth garbs of directors of corporations or financial magnates, the legal briefs and sermons underwent a similar change. Social amenities displaced Calvinistic theology; dancing, which had been a crime against the Church, became mere frivolity and finally an innocent pastime. Leading lawyers ceased to plead in petit courts to inferior magistrates, and learned to devise forms of contracts, to lobby in legislatures, or appear with the great Maryland and Virginia practitioners before the Federal Supreme Court.
The legal profession of the East naturally made common cause with their clients. The state courts, already accustomed to curb the democracy of the time and declare public enactments unconstitutional, when the interests of property required, as readily joined the new standards. The careers of Justice Parsons of Massachusetts and Chancellor Kent of New York, to whom all judges and lawyers of the time looked up as sources of inspiration, illustrate admirably the common tendency. Everywhere in the East as in the South "independent" judges asserted the power to declare laws unconstitutional.
The national courts had undergone the same evolution, except that they had met with violent opposition in the South and West. In many decisions from 1792 to 1830 the Federal Supreme Court asserted its authority over Congress, the President, and the States. In almost all of these instances the federal judges found the heartiest support from the East. The great institution over which Chief Justice Marshall presided with such perfect dignity, and which was not paralleled anywhere else in the world, lent its support to the interests of the East. If the constitutionality of the tariff were denied by irate planters, Eastern men pointed to decisions of the Federal Supreme Court; if the powers of the General Government under which the industrial or financial interests of the East operated were questioned, it was easy to find a decision of Chief Justice Marshall to cover the case. Nothing proved more fortunate for the leaders of the industrial revolution than the almost constant support of the federal courts and of the legal profession as a whole.
The compact social life of the industrial towns was still further reinforced by the clergy. In the shift from a stern theology to an easy-going religious philosophy, William Ellery Channing was a conspicuous leader. Harvard had already become a Unitarian center, and in 1836 the Transcendental Club was organized in Boston with Ralph Waldo Emerson, a preacher in revolt against the old theology, as one of its leaders; high-toned men, whose minds revolted alike against the old Puritanism, the grosser talk of rates of exchange and the building of common roadways, found consolation in speculative philosophy and romantic literature. The North American Review was already fifteen years old, and the best minds of the country were happy to have their thought and inspirations printed in its staid columns. Boston was a state of mind in 1830, and a good Methodist preacher who visited the city a little later lamented the lapse from the great virtues and the great theology of the Mathers.
But outside of Boston and its university suburb, there was little patience with a new religion or with a theology which did not teach the world the total depravity of man and the vengeance of an angry Deity consigning his wayward children to everlasting perdition. Southern gentlemen like Calhoun or Hayne might accept the mild and humane God of Channing, but not the farmers of the rural districts or the business men of the small towns.
If Boston cultivated philosophy and religious reform, New York was the seat of a literature that was read. Washington Irving, the author of the Sketch-Book and Tales of a Traveller, was just returning from a long and triumphant literary sojourn in Europe to make his home on the Hudson. James Fenimore Cooper was publishing his Leather Stocking Tales, which have made the hair on so many boys' heads stand on end. William Cullen Bryant was making the New York Evening Post the organ of American culture and setting the pace for the better element of the press. In Philadelphia, Carey and Lea were alternately publishing the writings of struggling literary lights and fiery pamphlets on the tariff and internal improvements. In 1832 John Pendleton Kennedy, of Maryland, published his Swallow Barn, a novel which portrayed the easy-going life of the Virginia planters; and in Richmond, William Wirt, disgusted with Western politics, rested on his laurels as the author of the British Spy and the Life of Patrick Henry. To match the North American Review the Charleston lovers of literature were publishing their excellent Southern Review. Even history was not without her muses. Reverend Jared Sparks was editing all the crudities of grammar and errors of spelling out of Washington's fourteen volumes of correspondence; George Ticknor, a young professor at Harvard, was beginning the work which was to culminate in his famous History of Spanish Literature; and George Bancroft was writing a History of the United States which was to win him international fame and ultimately to secure him a seat in the Cabinet of President Polk.